3 Google Analytics Tips for E-Commerce

There’s a lot more to Google Analytics than looking at basic traffic metrics. These tips will help you make improvements to drive more e-commerce sales from your different marketing channels. 

Many businesses using Google Analytics are only scratching the surface of what Google Analytics can do. By not taking advantage of the platform’s more powerful features, they lose out on getting a lot of valuable insights about their marketing and how to make the most of their budgets.

Covering every aspect of Google Analytics would require an e-book. So in this article, I’ll walk through three steps to get you started and more familiar with Google Analytics.

1. Base Your Website Objectives on Specific Business Needs

You can use Google Analytics to measure how well your website performs in helping you hit your company’s target KPIs. Do not rely on the defaults set up in Google Analytics. Those are meant to cover a broad range of companies, and some of them are not applicable to your business needs.

Instead, take the time to define the important KPIs that your website should be hitting. For example, in addition to online sales, is your goal to generate quote requests for larger/bulk orders? Is another goal to collect email addresses by offering a free report? Where do visitors need to go on your website if they are interested in your products or services?

As you think through these goals, you’ll start to identify conversions that you need to set up in the Google Analytics admin area. This is a critical step that will allow you to monitor the performance of all of your different marketing channels. For example, if your goal is to generate quote requests, then you’ll need to set up a conversion to measure quote requests. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to run reports to see how many quote requests were generated from SEO vs. Google Ads vs. Facebook, or any other marketing channel you’re using.

We also recommend using the audience reporting views to see if your website visitors are actually your ideal customers. You can create customized segments for tracking important demographic points, like age, gender, and location.

Reviewing the information on your visitors may give your more perspective. Maybe your company needs to change its marketing strategy or website layout to resonate more with your target market.

2. Use E-Commerce Tracking

Google Analytics offers a feature called Enhanced E-Commerce. You should see it when setting up your Google Analytics account. Here are a few ways you can use the feature to get a better understanding of the customer journey through your website and shopping portal.

  1. You can track the shopping and checkout behavior of each visitor to your site. That includes product page-views, shopping cart additions and removals, abandoned items, and completed transactions.
  2. You can view metrics, like revenue generated, average transaction quantity, conversion rates for specific products, and how quickly products get added to a shopping cart. You can see what point a customer loses interest in the shopping experience. That lets you focus on tactics that keep them engaged and encourage them to complete a purchase.
  3. You can measure the success of various internal and external marketing efforts meant to encourage shopping and checkouts by visitors. For example, you can see whether the new product banner put up increased conversion rates.

The various reports give you a clear view of the path customers take as they shop on your website.

3. Sync Google Analytics With Your E-Commerce Platform

Many e-commerce platforms, like Shopify, have the ability to quickly sync with Google Analytics. This can save you and your team a lot of time and frustration trying to set everything up manually.

For example, the e-commerce analytics reporting mentioned above requires knowledge of Javascript, if you want to set it up yourself. Always check with the support team for your e-commerce platform to see if they have already synced up with Google Analytics. If they have, then you could be set up in a matter of minutes.

Look Beyond Surface Data

There’s a lot more to Google Analytics than looking at basic traffic metrics. These tips should allow you to gain a better understanding of where you can make improvements to drive more e-commerce sales from your different marketing channels.

  • First, identify your business goals and set up conversions in the Google Analytics admin area.
  • Second, set up enhanced e-commerce analytics either manually or by syncing your e-commerce platform with Google Analytics.
  • And third, review all the e-commerce reports to see which marketing channels can be improved to increase your sales.

Want more tips on how to use Google Analytics? Click here to grab a copy of our “Ultimate Google Analytics Checklist.”

 

MarTech Profile: How to Turn Anonymous Website Visitors Into Leads With Stirista

Collecting information about website visitors, a standard practice in B2B marketing, is now becoming available to consumer marketers. I recently had a chat about it with Karl Van Delden, who heads product management at Stirista.

Collecting information about website visitors, a standard practice in B2B marketing, is now becoming available to consumer marketers. I recently had a chat about it with Karl Van Delden, who heads product management at Stirista.

His latest product is Visitor ID Graph, which allows consumer-driven companies to identify the visitors to their websites. Using VIG, site owners can now capture the contact information of as many as 45% of their visitors, for analysis and ongoing marketing communications.

Ruth P. Stevens: Karl, I’d like to ask you some details about the new Visitor ID Graph capability from Stirista and why it’s such a powerful tool for consumer marketers. As I understand it, VIG lets website owners identify the actual names and contact information of visitors to their websites. Please explain how it works.

KVD: We start by enabling the site owner to do first-party visitor tracking. It’s a small piece of code they can quickly attach to their site’s header. It doesn’t capture any PII, or personal information. It’s the same scope of data used with Google Analytics and similar reporting tools.

The real value happens when we match those captures back to our opt-in consumer data file, to provide the name, email, and postal information. This also allows us to enable the user to leverage additional insights, such as demographics and geolocation, to help the site owners to further segment their visitor audience.

RPS: So you’re delivering both the contact info and the demographic of visitors. This has big implications for consumer marketers, right?

KVD: Yes, this data is really valuable. These are people who have come right to your online front door, with a clear interest in what you are offering. You get everything you need to re-engage them effectively through your preferred marketing channels.

RPS: Traditionally, the only way to de-anonymize your website visitors was to make an offer and persuade visitors to fill out a form or sign up for a newsletter.  But you typically only get a small percentage of visitors to do that — like maybe 1% or 2%, if you’re lucky. With VIG, what kind of match rates can we expect to get?

KVD: Typically, for a consumer-facing business, we see anywhere from 25 to 45% match rates.

RPS: So, I can expect to identify 25% to 45% of my site visitors and add those names to my marketing database. And what does it cost?

KVD:  Subscription plans start out at $500 per month, to activate one website and download up to 2,000 contacts. That’s the base, so it really only gets cheaper from there, whether you need more contacts for your site, or to activate another site entirely. These plans cap out at 12,000 contacts, which can support up to six sites, but it’s also possible for us to create custom plans above these volumes.

RPS: So, $500 gets you 2,000 names. That’s a great deal; especially since these people have already visited your website. So they’re much more qualified than an ordinary list. What kinds of clients are using the service so far?

KVD: All manner, really, but I’ve been surprised with its popularity with retail, brick-and-mortar shops. Everything from furniture stores, to auto dealers, and beyond. They can then retarget or even just identify some of the countless visitors that bounce off their site.

RPS: You’re offering a free account, like a free trial, right? So I can set VIG up for my site, or various sites I own, and see the names of the visitors as they match up, and then when I want to download the names and use them in my marketing, I can choose a payment plan.

I can see marketers salivating at the chance to identify visitors who come by from all kinds of sources, from campaigns, from SEO, over the transom, whatever. Now that VIG is launched, what other features and functionality do you have planned for it?

KVD: Well, so far, we have a pretty good hold on the essentials — setup, reporting, getting the data, and some supporting features to give flexibility to users. The next big focus will be providing new options for how to use it. This will include a built-in CRM and integration points for popular third-party CRMs and CDPs.

RPS: And if users want to get help, or find out more, or give you suggestions for how to make the product better, how should they get in touch with you?

KVD: We would welcome anyone who is interested to email us at info@stirista.com, to set up a consultation or demo. You can also visit visitoridgraph.com if you want to jump in for yourself.

As I mentioned before, everything shy of the data purchase step can be done on a free account, so I would invite anyone even remotely interested to check it out, see how simple it is to begin tracking your site, and, of course, see how many data matches you get.

A version of this article appeared originally in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Conversions Are More Important Than Traffic With Google Ads and 3 Steps to Up Them

What’s the difference between successful (profitable) and unsuccessful (unprofitable) Google Ads advertisers? Successful advertisers focus more on conversions than traffic.

conversionsAnybody can spend money on Google Ads. But only a small percentage of advertisers earn a healthy profit from their investments in advertising. So, what’s the difference between successful (profitable) and unsuccessful (unprofitable) advertisers?

Unsuccessful advertisers focus on traffic. Successful advertisers focus on conversion. They understand that conversion is what really makes or breaks an advertising campaign.

In this context, we can define conversion as the ability to turn website visitors into customers. If you can convert on traffic at higher rates than your competitors, you’ll not only profit more, but you’ll be able to expand your reach and gain more market share.

Of course, traffic and conversion go hand-in-hand. You need traffic in order to get more conversions and customers. But in the scheme of things, conversion is way more important than traffic. Conversion is where all the leverage is. And to succeed with advertising, you must prioritize conversion over traffic.

You may be wondering, “Why is a conversion more important than traffic?” The answer is that your conversion rate places a limit on your traffic. For example…

  • If you have really low conversions … Only a tiny percentage of website visitors are converting into customers, and that means you’re probably losing money on your advertising, and you’ll have to stop or you’ll go broke.
  • If you have mediocre conversions …. Only a small percentage of your website visitors are converting into customers, and then you’ll have to “retreat” and find places where you can still earn a profit. Your traffic potential is very limited.
  • But if you have really strong conversions … You’re converting more website visitors into customers, compared with your competition. As a result, you’ll have the money to expand your advertising. Essentially, high conversion rates provide the funding to buy traffic.

Here’s the process you should take to create and fine-tune a high-converting advertising campaign:

Step 1: Always Run the Numbers Before You Run Ads

Never pull the trigger on an ad campaign before you run the numbers. You need to know how much you can really afford to get a click, generate a lead and acquire a new customer. Do some “back of the envelope” calculations to see what kind of conversion rates you’d need to have for your advertising to be profitable.

Step 2. Put Your Best Foot Forward

Once you run the numbers, you’ll probably need to make some improvements to your conversion systems in order to make the numbers work in your favor. You’ll want to create a high-converting landing page. You also may need to adjust your offer and pricing, improve your sales/closing process, put upsells in place and create a follow-up sequence.

The important thing is to do this before you buy traffic, so you’ll have confidence you can actually make money from your ads. Always avoid advertising into a “leaky” funnel, because that’s just asking to lose money.

Step 3. Never Stop Testing

Once you’ve got your ads live, that’s really just the beginning.

Now you need to track, tweak and test in order to get your campaign to be profitable. And once your ads are profitable, you should not “set it and forget it.” Instead, you should be continually tracking, tweaking and testing your marketing funnel. This is where advertising gets really fun, because with every conversion improvement you make, you’re giving yourself a raise. Plus, you’re widening the gap between you and your competition, making it harder and harder for anybody to catch up and compete with you.

Want more tips to improve your Google advertising? Get your free copy of our Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

 

Improving Website Engagement Means Getting Your Site Visitors to Stay

Getting website visitors to stick around is critical in moving them through the buying cycle. Here are the aspects of your site to focus on to increase engagement and conversion.

On Saturday mornings, the station my clock radio is set to play “Living on Earth,” a show about environmental topics. After a brief intro on the show’s topics, the host Steve Kirwood says, “Stick around!” before cutting over to the local news.

I’m not sure if his jaunty delivery makes more people stay tuned in through the news break, but it sure has stuck in my head. And it comes to mind today, because getting visitors to stick around on your website is a critical component in your site’s marketing and lead generation success. Here are some tips for encouraging deeper website engagement.

What’s in It for Them?

Make it impossible for your audience to miss what’s in it for them. Forget your years of experience and and your awards and how great you are. That’s not going to get them to stick around. (Yet.) More on this below. Make sure your value proposition is front-and-center.

Be Entertaining

Often overlooked in the focus on being informative — which clearly is critical — you should also pay attention to whether your content that is fun to read, view or listen to.

B2B shouldn’t mean “Boring to Boring.”

We’re all people — even when we’re in the office — and we all like to enjoy even the mundane moments of our day. No, you’re not likely to make your B2B site as bingeworthy as the latest Netflix hit, but you can make people smile. And that’s going to help keep them engaged.

Be Informative

Because you can’t be Netflix, you have to be valuable. It’s just that simple. People aren’t coming to your site primarily to be entertained, anyway; they’re coming to learn more about how they might solve a business problem. Help them do that, and they’ll not only stick around longer, they’ll be back more frequently.

Write Well

All of the above implies good writing, but it’s worth pointing out that your content has to compete with a lot — not just other firms offering the same service, but all the fun stuff on social media and everywhere else. You have to craft more-than-passable prose.

If you can afford to hire a good writer, do so. Work with her or him often enough so he or she knows your company and your products inside and out and can craft a strong story.

If budget is an issue and you have to do the writing yourself even though you’re not 100% confident in your skills, go against your instinct to write less. Write more. The more you write, the more quickly your writing will go from questionable (or wherever it is now) to captivating. That’s your goal.

Perspective Matters

In your writing and the way you organize your site, think from your prospect’s perspective. If you’ve presented your value proposition properly, you’re well on your way. Keep that value central to all your writing, as well as your site’s navigational controls and structure. Even your calls to action should follow this principal and answer the question, “What would someone who’s just consumed this piece of content be interested in next?”

Ask for the Sale

Speaking of calls to action, find the balance between overdoing it and never doing it. You may not be literally asking for a sale, but you should be asking your audience to take the next step in building a relationship with you. Get them to take that next step by making the next step logical and rewarding.

Track Engagement

With these ideas implemented on your site, you should see an increase in engagement metrics, like average session time and number of pages viewed per session. You are tracking these data points, aren’t you?

By they way, if you’re wondering why I have an alarm set on Saturday mornings, so am I. Our dogs always have me up before the alarm goes off, anyway …

The Power of Interstitials … Are You Using Them?

Whether your goal is cross-selling or lead generation, interstitials are a great way to get your website visitors’ attention and take action. According to adspeed.com, an interstitial ad is a full-page ad that appears before (on top of) the actual webpage. This illustration is a sample. Your webmaster or Web programmer can easily put this in place via an html script. In a nutshell, it’s an ad in the front/center of the screen (some sites even keep the ad in place if you scroll up or down, which I find annoying).

Whether your goal is cross-selling or lead generation, interstitials are a great way to get your website visitors’ attention and take action.

According to adspeed.com, an interstitial ad is a full-page ad that appears before (on top of) the actual webpage.

This illustration is a sample.

Your webmaster or Web programmer can easily put this in place via an html script. In a nutshell, it’s an ad in the front/center of the screen (some sites even keep the ad in place if you scroll up or down, which I find annoying).

Typically, interstitials don’t get blocked, like pop-up ads, by many websites or search engines. (For example, Google AdWords won’t approve a PPC campaign if the redirect URL goes to a website that has pop-up ads).

An interstitial can feature various offers for lead generation (email collection) or sales (selling a product). It could be alerting the audience of a special offer, new product, poll or more.

Most interstitials are visually attractive, with strong promotional copy, calls to action and eye-catching graphics. Then the background of the ad is greyed-out, where you can still see the website behind the ad, but it’s faded—so your focus is on the main offer. There’s also a clear and obvious way to close the interstitial. No tricks or hard-to-find “close x” buttons.

Interstitials are ideal if you don’t have room for banner or text ads on your website or you don’t want to affect the current layout of you home page or website theme.

Not all interstitials, however, are created equal. I’ve seen some implemented that are not only unattractive, but are also ineffective in copy and execution. So think about the traffic and audience that may be coming to your website and the offer that may be most attractive to them.

If you drive a lot of traffic to your site but haven’t been able to monetize the traffic or harness the emails, an interstitial is an effective way to capture email addresses and put those names into your sales funnel for future auto-responder series and upsell efforts.

The beauty of an interstitial is that you can make your actual ad space as big or small as you need.

Whatever your offer or need … an interstitial can deliver. And best of all, you don’t have to wonder if your website visitors saw the ad or not. It’s no doubt they did. You are just giving them the option to act on it OR not.

Stephanie Miller’s Engagement Matters: Email Storytelling Sells

Combat the fatigue from crowded inboxes by embracing the role of storyteller. Telling a story, rather than just announcing a fact or blasting out an announcement, is a more engaging way to share information. The storytelling approach weaves a relationship through a cadence of touchpoints. Any nurturing or loyalty program is built on the same concept, and many B-to-B marketers are very good at telling stories to move prospects through a buying process.

Gone are the days of the passive email subscriber. Consumers and business professionals tire easily when publishers and marketers broadcast to them. It’s the online equivalent of shouting. Your customers and readers want meaningful conversations — and they know they have other options if you don’t deliver.

Combat the fatigue from crowded inboxes by embracing the role of storyteller. Telling a story, rather than just announcing a fact or blasting out an announcement, is a more engaging way to share information. The storytelling approach weaves a relationship through a cadence of touchpoints. This isn’t complex. Any nurturing or loyalty program is built on the same concept, and many B-to-B marketers are very good at telling stories to move prospects through a buying process.

It’s simply a series of stories about use cases, cool new features and real-life implementation of your editorial, products and services. So invite your subscribers to the proverbial campfire and build their anticipation with a question, “How can I help you today?” Email marketing is great for providing the answer.

Invite subscribers on a story journey
Instead of sending a generic newsletter or “special offers,” invite website visitors to accept a two to five message email series on a particular topic. Make it about how your products, services or content will help them: “Five ways to be beautiful this summer,” “Three strategies for impressing your boss,” “Doctor’s advice on buying contact lenses online,” “Ten things your CEO wants you to know,” “Five great summer games for kids under 10.”

Make it easy to sign up by putting invitations in prominent locations on pages that have related content. And be sure permission is clear. If the offer is just for two to five email messages over the same number of weeks or days, then say so. You’ll likely find a higher sign-up rate and higher response and engagement because the content is so targeted. If you’re also signing them up for your ongoing e-newsletter, be clear about that. There’s no reason you can’t encourage a further subscription after you’ve delivered the series, too. Earn their trust first, then sell. Consider the following strategies:

  • Make your story interactive.
  • Tap the socially connected nature of today’s digital experience.
  • Integrate opportunities for subscribers to share with their social networks or forward to others.
  • Invite subscribers to take a poll or survey or give you feedback.
  • Offer a page where subscribers can upload their own stories or photos, and then share that user-generated content back to the group in your series.
  • Ensure your customer service team monitors these pages so that you can quickly respond to any questions or direct prospects to your sales team or e-commerce site.

Why does it work? An email series strategy is based on a fundamental truth of marketing: Provide something of value and customers will continue to engage. A series makes it easy for you to customize messages to the interests of subscribers at that moment. The topic is top of mind for them, and that creates selling and relationship opportunities for you.

Another benefit is that when your email messages are more relevant, you won’t have as many people clicking the “Report Spam” button, which registers as a complaint at internet service providers like Yahoo or Gmail. Even a small number of complaints can result in a poor sender reputation and a block on all your messages. Make even some of your messages more relevant, and the response rates for all your messages will go up and complaints will go down.

For content, consider the following four options:

1. Make it easy to learn more. Offer website visitors a two- to three-part email series rather than a whitepaper. Most downloaded content never actually gets opened or read. Once a whitepaper is downloaded and saved, it’s out of mind. An email series forces marketers to package up content in bite-sized pieces (you can always link to more detail on your website), and gives them several opportunities over a few weeks to engage. Advertising CPMs for these targeted messages can be at a premium, as well.

2. Comparison shopping. Advertisers know that readers are researching and want publishers to help them shorten sales cycles. Use a series of email messages to help subscribers compare competitive sets — the more honest/nonadvertorial you are, the longer they stay on your site! — find testimonials and bloggers, and make a strong business case.

3. Move free-trial subscribers to paid circulation. A series can give prospects confidence in your content or technology. Help them actually use your service during the trial — help them find the best reviews or product feature comparisons, or let them download tools that help them forecast productivity, revenue or cost savings as a result of making a decision to buy. Test if increasing incentives as prospects move through the cycle helps or hurts your conversion (and margin).

4. Educate. Send one great idea each week, and include ways to practice or implement. The next week, ask for input or a story about how that idea worked or didn’t work. Then, the next day, send the next idea. This interactive cadence will build value for subscribers and let them engage repeatedly over time.

Storytelling lets you retain control over the content while giving subscribers the freedom, choice and interactivity they crave. Successful email marketing is built on a very simple concept: Give subscribers what they want, and they’ll give you what you want. Subscribers want you to help them. When you do, they’ll reward you with higher response and sales, positive buzz and sharing, and stronger brand loyalty.

Let me know what you think by sharing any ideas or comments below.